"Let us get up, my darlings," said I, "and swear to each other eternal
When we had risen we performed, all three together, ablutions which made
them laugh a good deal, and which gave a new impetus to the ardour of our
feelings. Sitting up in the simple costume of nature, we ate the remains
of our supper, exchanging those thousand trifling words which love alone
can understand, and we again retired to our bed, where we spent a most
delightful night giving each other mutual and oft-repeated proofs of our
passionate ardour. Nanette was the recipient of my last bounties, for
Madame Orio having left the house to go to church, I had to hasten my
departure, after assuring the two lovely sisters that they had effectually
extinguished whatever flame might still have flickered in my heart for
Angela. I went home and slept soundly until dinner-time.
M. de Malipiero passed a remark upon my cheerful looks and the dark
circles around my eyes, but I kept my own counsel, and I allowed him to
think whatever he pleased. On the following day I paid a visit to Madame
Orio, and Angela not being of the party, I remained to supper and retired
with M. Rosa. During the evening Nanette contrived to give me a letter and
a small parcel. The parcel contained a small lump of wax with the stamp of
a key, and the letter told me to have a key made, and to use it to enter
the house whenever I wished to spend the night with them. She informed me
at the same time that Angela had slept with them the night following our
adventures, and that, thanks to their mutual and usual practices, she had
guessed the real state of things, that they had not denied it, adding that
it was all her fault, and that Angela, after abusing them most vehemently,
had sworn never again to darken their doors; but they did not care a jot.
A few days afterwards our good fortune delivered us from Angela; she was
taken to Vicenza by her father, who had removed there for a couple of
years, having been engaged to paint frescoes in some houses in that city.
Thanks to her absence, I found myself undisturbed possessor of the two
charming sisters, with whom I spent at least two nights every week,
finding no difficulty in entering the house with the key which I had
Carnival was nearly over, when M. Manzoni informed me one day that the
celebrated Juliette wished to see me, and regretted much that I had ceased
to visit her. I felt curious as to what she had to say to me, and
accompanied him to her house. She received me very politely, and remarking
that she had heard of a large hall I had in my house, she said she would
like to give a ball there, if I would give her the use of it. I readily
consented, and she handed me twenty-four sequins for the supper and for
the band, undertaking to send people to place chandeliers in the hall and
in my other rooms.
M. de Sanvitali had left Venice, and the Parmesan government had placed
his estates in chancery in consequence of his extravagant expenditure. I
met him at Versailles ten years afterwards. He wore the insignia of the
king's order of knighthood, and was grand equerry to the eldest daughter
of Louis XV., Duchess of Parma, who, like all the French princesses, could
not be reconciled to the climate of Italy.
The ball took place, and went off splendidly. All the guests belonged to
Juliette's set, with the exception of Madame Orio, her nieces, and the
procurator Rosa, who sat together in the room adjoining the hall, and whom
I had been permitted to introduce as persons of no consequence whatever.
While the after-supper minuets were being danced Juliette took me apart,
and said, "Take me to your bedroom; I have just got an amusing idea."
My room was on the third story; I shewed her the way. The moment we
entered she bolted the door, much to my surprise. "I wish you," she said,
"to dress me up in your ecclesiastical clothes, and I will disguise you as
a woman with my own things. We will go down and dance together. Come, let
us first dress our hair."
Feeling sure of something pleasant to come, and delighted with such an
unusual adventure, I lose no time in arranging her hair, and I let her
afterwards dress mine. She applies rouge and a few beauty spots to my
face; I humour her in everything, and to prove her satisfaction, she gives
me with the best of grace a very loving kiss, on condition that I do not
ask for anything else.
"As you please, beautiful Juliette, but I give you due notice that I adore
I place upon my bed a shirt, an abbe's neckband, a pair of drawers, black
silk stockings—in fact, a complete fit-out. Coming near the bed,
Juliette drops her skirt, and cleverly gets into the drawers, which were
not a bad fit, but when she comes to the breeches there is some
difficulty; the waistband is too narrow, and the only remedy is to rip it
behind or to cut it, if necessary. I undertake to make everything right,
and, as I sit on the foot of my bed, she places herself in front of me,
with her back towards me. I begin my work, but she thinks that I want to
see too much, that I am not skilful enough, and that my fingers wander in
unnecessary places; she gets fidgety, leaves me, tears the breeches, and
manages in her own way. Then I help her to put her shoes on, and I pass
the shirt over her head, but as I am disposing the ruffle and the
neck-band, she complains of my hands being too curious; and in truth, her
bosom was rather scanty. She calls me a knave and rascal, but I take no
notice of her. I was not going to be duped, and I thought that a woman who
had been paid one hundred thousand ducats was well worth some study. At
last, her toilet being completed, my turn comes. In spite of her
objections I quickly get rid of my breeches, and she must put on me the
chemise, then a skirt, in a word she has to dress me up. But all at once,
playing the coquette, she gets angry because I do not conceal from her
looks the very apparent proof that her charms have some effect on a
particular part of my being, and she refuses to grant me the favour which
would soon afford both relief and calm. I try to kiss her, and she
repulses me, whereupon I lose patience, and in spite of herself she has to
witness the last stage of my excitement. At the sight of this, she pours
out every insulting word she can think of; I endeavour to prove that she
is to blame, but it is all in vain.
However, she is compelled to complete my disguise. There is no doubt that
an honest woman would not have exposed herself to such an adventure,
unless she had intended to prove her tender feelings, and that she would
not have drawn back at the very moment she saw them shared by her
companion; but women like Juliette are often guided by a spirit of
contradiction which causes them to act against their own interests.
Besides, she felt disappointed when she found out that I was not timid,
and my want of restraint appeared to her a want of respect. She would not
have objected to my stealing a few light favours which she would have
allowed me to take, as being of no importance, but, by doing that, I
should have flattered her vanity too highly.
Our disguise being complete, we went together to the dancing-hall, where
the enthusiastic applause of the guests soon restored our good temper.
Everybody gave me credit for a piece of fortune which I had not enjoyed,
but I was not ill-pleased with the rumour, and went on dancing with the
false abbe, who was only too charming. Juliette treated me so well during
the night that I construed her manners towards me into some sort of
repentance, and I almost regretted what had taken place between us; it was
a momentary weakness for which I was sorely punished.
At the end of the quadrille all the men thought they had a right to take
liberties with the abbe, and I became myself rather free with the young
girls, who would have been afraid of exposing themselves to ridicule had
they offered any opposition to my caresses.
M. Querini was foolish enough to enquire from me whether I had kept on my
breeches, and as I answered that I had been compelled to lend them to
Juliette, he looked very unhappy, sat down in a corner of the room, and
refused to dance.
Every one of the guests soon remarked that I had on a woman's chemise, and
nobody entertained a doubt of the sacrifice having been consummated, with
the exception of Nanette and Marton, who could not imagine the possibility
of my being unfaithful to them. Juliette perceived that she had been
guilty of great imprudence, but it was too late to remedy the evil.
When we returned to my chamber upstairs, thinking that she had repented of
her previous behaviour, and feeling some desire to possess her, I thought
I would kiss her, and I took hold of her hand, saying I was disposed to
give her every satisfaction, but she quickly slapped my face in so violent
a manner that, in my indignation, I was very near returning the
compliment. I undressed myself rapidly without looking at her, she did the
same, and we came downstairs; but, in spite of the cold water I had
applied to my cheek, everyone could easily see the stamp of the large hand
which had come in contact with my face.
Before leaving the house, Juliette took me apart, and told me, in the most
decided and impressive manner, that if I had any fancy for being thrown
out of the window, I could enjoy that pleasure whenever I liked to enter
her dwelling, and that she would have me murdered if this night's
adventure ever became publicly known. I took care not to give her any
cause for the execution of either of her threats, but I could not prevent
the fact of our having exchanged shirts being rather notorious. As I was
not seen at her house, it was generally supposed that she had been
compelled by M. Querini to keep me at a distance. The reader will see how,
six years later, this extraordinary woman thought proper to feign entire
forgetfulness of this adventure.
I passed Lent, partly in the company of my loved ones, partly in the study
of experimental physics at the Convent of the Salutation. My evenings were
always given to M. de Malipiero's assemblies. At Easter, in order to keep
the promise I had made to the Countess of Mont-Real, and longing to see
again my beautiful Lucie, I went to Pasean. I found the guests entirely
different to the set I had met the previous autumn. Count Daniel, the
eldest of the family, had married a Countess Gozzi, and a young and
wealthy government official, who had married a god-daughter of the old
countess, was there with his wife and his sister-in-law. I thought the
supper very long. The same room had been given to me, and I was burning to
see Lucie, whom I did not intend to treat any more like a child. I did not
see her before going to bed, but I expected her early the next morning,
when lo! instead of her pretty face brightening my eyes, I see standing
before me a fat, ugly servant-girl! I enquire after the gatekeeper's
family, but her answer is given in the peculiar dialect of the place, and
is, of course, unintelligible to me.
I wonder what has become of Lucie; I fancy that our intimacy has been
found out, I fancy that she is ill—dead, perhaps. I dress myself
with the intention of looking for her. If she has been forbidden to see
me, I think to myself, I will be even with them all, for somehow or other
I will contrive the means of speaking to her, and out of spite I will do
with her that which honour prevented love from accomplishing. As I was
revolving such thoughts, the gate-keeper comes in with a sorrowful
countenance. I enquire after his wife's health, and after his daughter,
but at the name of Lucie his eyes are filled with tears.
"What! is she dead?"
"Would to God she were!"
"What has she done?"
"She has run away with Count Daniel's courier, and we have been unable to
trace her anywhere."
His wife comes in at the moment he replies, and at these words, which
renewed her grief, the poor woman faints away. The keeper, seeing how
sincerely I felt for his misery, tells me that this great misfortune
befell them only a week before my arrival.
"I know that man l'Aigle," I say; "he is a scoundrel. Did he ask to marry
"No; he knew well enough that our consent would have been refused!"
"I wonder at Lucie acting in such a way."
"He seduced her, and her running away made us suspect the truth, for she
had become very stout."
"Had he known her long?"
"About a month after your last visit she saw him for the first time. He
must have thrown a spell over her, for our Lucie was as pure as a dove,
and you can, I believe, bear testimony to her goodness."
"And no one knows where they are?"
"No one. God alone knows what this villain will do with her."
I grieved as much as the unfortunate parents; I went out and took a long
ramble in the woods to give way to my sad feelings. During two hours I
cogitated over considerations, some true, some false, which were all
prefaced by an if. If I had paid this visit, as I might have done, a week
sooner, loving Lucie would have confided in me, and I would have prevented
that self-murder. If I had acted with her as with Nanette and Marton, she
would not have been left by me in that state of ardent excitement which
must have proved the principal cause of her fault, and she would not have
fallen a prey to that scoundrel. If she had not known me before meeting
the courier, her innocent soul would never have listened to such a man. I
was in despair, for in my conscience I acknowledged myself the primary
agent of this infamous seduction; I had prepared the way for the villain.
Had I known where to find Lucie, I would certainly have gone forth on the
instant to seek for her, but no trace whatever of her whereabouts had been
Before I had been made acquainted with Lucie's misfortune I felt great
pride at having had sufficient power over myself to respect her innocence;
but after hearing what had happened I was ashamed of my own reserve, and I
promised myself that for the future I would on that score act more wisely.
I felt truly miserable when my imagination painted the probability of the
unfortunate girl being left to poverty and shame, cursing the remembrance
of me, and hating me as the first cause of her misery. This fatal event
caused me to adopt a new system, which in after years I carried sometimes
rather too far.
I joined the cheerful guests of the countess in the gardens, and received
such a welcome that I was soon again in my usual spirits, and at dinner I
My sorrow was so great that it was necessary either to drive it away at
once or to leave Pasean. But a new life crept into my being as I examined
the face and the disposition of the newly-married lady. Her sister was
prettier, but I was beginning to feel afraid of a novice; I thought the
work too great.
This newly-married lady, who was between nineteen and twenty years of age,
drew upon herself everybody's attention by her over-strained and unnatural
manners. A great talker, with a memory crammed with maxims and precepts
often without sense, but of which she loved to make a show, very devout,
and so jealous of her husband that she did not conceal her vexation when
he expressed his satisfaction at being seated at table opposite her
sister, she laid herself open to much ridicule. Her husband was a giddy
young fellow, who perhaps felt very deep affection for his wife, but who
imagined that, through good breeding, he ought to appear very indifferent,
and whose vanity found pleasure in giving her constant causes for
jealousy. She, in her turn, had a great dread of passing for an idiot if
she did not shew her appreciation of, and her resentment for, his conduct.
She felt uneasy in the midst of good company, precisely because she wished
to appear thoroughly at home. If I prattled away with some of my trilling
nonsense, she would stare at me, and in her anxiety not to be thought
stupid, she would laugh out of season. Her oddity, her awkwardness, and
her self-conceit gave me the desire to know her better, and I began to
dance attendance upon her.
My attentions, important and unimportant, my constant care, ever my
fopperies, let everybody know that I meditated conquest. The husband was
duly warned, but, with a great show of intrepidity, he answered with a
joke every time he was told that I was a formidable rival. On my side I
assumed a modest, and even sometimes a careless appearance, when, to shew
his freedom from jealousy, he excited me to make love to his wife, who, on
her part, understood but little how to perform the part of fancy free.
I had been paying my address to her for five or six days with great
constancy, when, taking a walk with her in the garden, she imprudently
confided to me the reason of her anxiety respecting her husband, and how
wrong he was to give her any cause for jealousy. I told her, speaking as
an old friend, that the best way to punish him would be to take no
apparent notice of her, husband's preference for her sister, and to feign
to be herself in love with me. In order to entice her more easily to
follow my advice, I added that I was well aware of my plan being a very
difficult one to carry out, and that to play successfully such a character
a woman must be particularly witty. I had touched her weak point, and she
exclaimed that she would play the part to perfection; but in spite of her
self-confidence she acquitted herself so badly that everybody understood
that the plan was of my own scheming.
If I happened to be alone with her in the dark paths of the garden, and
tried to make her play her part in real earnest, she would take the
dangerous step of running away, and rejoining the other guests; the result
being that, on my reappearance, I was called a bad sportsman who
frightened the bird away. I would not fail at the first opportunity to
reproach her for her flight, and to represent the triumph she had thus
prepared for her spouse. I praised her mind, but lamented over the
shortcomings of her education; I said that the tone, the manners I adopted
towards her, were those of good society, and proved the great esteem I
entertained for her intelligence, but in the middle of all my fine
speeches, towards the eleventh or twelfth day of my courtship, she
suddenly put me out of all conceit by telling me that, being a priest, I
ought to know that every amorous connection was a deadly sin, that God
could see every action of His creatures, and that she would neither damn
her soul nor place herself under the necessity of saying to her confessor
that she had so far forgotten herself as to commit such a sin with a
priest. I objected that I was not yet a priest, but she foiled me by
enquiring point-blank whether or not the act I had in view was to be
numbered amongst the cardinal sins, for, not feeling the courage to deny
it, I felt that I must give up the argument and put an end to the
A little consideration having considerably calmed my feelings, everybody
remarked my new countenance during dinner; and the old count, who was very
fond of a joke, expressed loudly his opinion that such quiet demeanour on
my part announced the complete success of my campaign. Considering such a
remark to be favourable to me, I took care to spew my cruel devotee that
such was the way the world would judge, but all this was lost labour.
Luck, however, stood me in good stead, and my efforts were crowned with
success in the following manner.
On Ascension Day, we all went to pay a visit to Madame Bergali, a
celebrated Italian poetess. On my return to Pasean the same evening, my
pretty mistress wished to get into a carriage for four persons in which
her husband and sister were already seated, while I was alone in a
two-wheeled chaise. I exclaimed at this, saying that such a mark of
distrust was indeed too pointed, and everybody remonstrated with her,
saying that she ought not to insult me so cruelly. She was compelled to
come with me, and having told the postillion that I wanted to go by the
nearest road, he left the other carriages, and took the way through the
forest of Cequini. The sky was clear and cloudless when we left, but in
less than half-an-hour we were visited by one of those storms so frequent
in the south, which appear likely to overthrow heaven and earth, and which
end rapidly, leaving behind them a bright sky and a cool atmosphere, so
that they do more good than harm.
"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed my companion, "we shall have a storm."
"Yes," I say, "and although the chaise is covered, the rain will spoil
your pretty dress. I am very sorry."
"I do not mind the dress; but the thunder frightens me so!"
"Close your ears."
"And the lightning?"
"Postillion, let us go somewhere for shelter."
"There is not a house, sir, for a league, and before we come to it, the
storm will have passed off."
He quietly keeps on his way, and the lightning flashes, the thunder sends
forth its mighty voice, and the lady shudders with fright. The rain comes
down in torrents, I take off my cloak to shelter us in front, at the same
moment we are blinded by a flash of lightning, and the electric fluid
strikes the earth within one hundred yards of us. The horses plunge and
prance with fear, and my companion falls in spasmodic convulsions. She
throws herself upon me, and folds me in her arms. The cloak had gone down,
I stoop to place it around us, and improving my opportunity I take up her
clothes. She tries to pull them down, but another clap of thunder deprives
her of every particle of strength. Covering her with the cloak, I draw her
towards me, and the motion of the chaise coming to my assistance, she
falls over me in the most favourable position. I lose no time, and under
pretence of arranging my watch in my fob, I prepare myself for the
assault. On her side, conscious that, unless she stops me at once, all is
lost, she makes a great effort; but I hold her tightly, saying that if she
does not feign a fainting fit, the post-boy will turn round and see
everything; I let her enjoy the pleasure of calling me an infidel, a
monster, anything she likes, but my victory is the most complete that ever
a champion achieved.
The rain, however, was falling, the wind, which was very high, blew in our
faces, and, compelled to stay where she was, she said I would ruin her
reputation, as the postillion could see everything.
"I keep my eye upon him," I answered, "he is not thinking of us, and even
if he should turn his head, the cloak shelters us from him. Be quiet, and
pretend to have fainted, for I will not let you go."
She seems resigned, and asks how I can thus set the storm at defiance.
"The storm, dear one, is my best friend to-day."
She almost seems to believe me, her fear vanishes, and feeling my rapture,
she enquires whether I have done. I smile and answer in the negative,
stating that I cannot let her go till the storm is over. "Consent to
everything, or I let the cloak drop," I say to her.
"Well, you dreadful man, are you satisfied, now that you have insured my
misery for the remainder of my life?"
"No, not yet."
"What more do you want?"
"A shower of kisses."
"How unhappy I am! Well! here they are."
"Tell me you forgive me, and confess that you have shared all my
"You know I did. Yes, I forgive you."
Then I give her her liberty, and treating her to some very pleasant
caresses, I ask her to have the same kindness for me, and she goes to work
with a smile on her pretty lips.
"Tell me you love me," I say to her.
"No, I do not, for you are an atheist, and hell awaits you."
The weather was fine again, and the elements calm; I kissed her hands and
told her that the postillion had certainly not seen anything, and that I
was sure I had cured her of her dread of thunder, but that she was not
likely to reveal the secret of my remedy. She answered that one thing at
least was certain, namely that no other woman had ever been cured by the
"Why," I said, "the same remedy has very likely been applied a million of
times within the last thousand years. To tell you the truth, I had
somewhat depended upon it, when we entered the chaise together, for I did
not know any other way of obtaining the happiness of possessing you. But
console yourself with the belief that, placed in the same position, no
frightened woman could have resisted."
"I believe you; but for the future I will travel only with my husband."
"You would be wrong, for your husband would not have been clever enough to
cure your fright in the way I have done."
"True, again. One learns some curious things in your company; but we shall
not travel tete-a-tete again."
We reached Pasean an hour before our friends. We get out of the chaise,
and my fair mistress ran off to her chamber, while I was looking for a
crown for the postillion. I saw that he was grinning.
"What are you laughing at?"
"Oh! you know."
"Here, take this ducat and keep a quiet tongue in your head."